Hello Friends and Family,

Florida Christmas 1974

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Christmastime in 1974 found me traveling again — this time to Florida. You may have gotten the impression that I was continually going on exotic vacations — Southern California, US Virgin Islands, Hawai‘i, and now Florida. But the truth is a bit plebeian. I was only a casual photographer — taking photos of special times and events. In 1962, my family moved to south Florida — my dad's company moved there and he was offered a job at the new location including a paid move. So we packed up our belongings and all six of us began a new adventure. Here is a record shot — the four kids, now all grown or nearly so — from left to right, Lisa, Connie, Janie and me. Lisa is holding Samantha.

You may recall that Walt Disney wanted to build a bigger, better version of Disneyland and chose the Orlando, Florida area for the project. Part of his objective was to acquire an extensive parcel of land (as big as some counties) adequate for his team to build multiple attractions with plenty of capacity to do it well. The Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, the first attraction, modeled after Disneyland but, as I said, bigger and better. You can tell by the grin on Lisa's face that Disney succeeded. The only problem was the crowds — everyone and his brother wanted to spend the holidays visiting Disney. The lines were long so we could not visit as many attractions as we wanted but we soon learned to pick and choose — assuming that we would be returning when it was not so busy.

Cinderella Castle is physically and thematically at the center of the Magic Kingdom (BTW, a second Cinderella Castle later was built at Tokyo Disneyland). According to Wikipedia, it was "designed to reflect the late-Gothic, flamboyant style of the 1400s)." In my view, it is spectacular.

Of course, there are vendors everywhere giving park guests every opportunity to part with their money, even if it's just our mom buying a Mickey Mouse balloon for her first grandson, Todd.

Here is a shot of Connie and Todd sharing a mother-son bonding moment. I believe Todd was about three years old then. He is now a father with a brood of kids of his own — all adults or nearing adulthood. They have given him more than his share of gray hair.

Funny story here: Todd was quite wary of me because I was new to his life (there is quite a distance between Minnesota and Florida so I was a total stranger). We waited for the Walt Disney World Railroad train and when we could hear the bell clanging and the steam escaping, Todd became so excited that he readily accepted my offer to pick him up so he could see the train coming. It was only after the train stopped in front of us that he realized who was holding him and wanted to get down immediately. We get along much better now.

Kids are funny in many ways but one that fascinates me is how they can amuse themselves with nothing more than a leaf or piece of fluff. Todd was no exception.

Next up are the Mike Fink Keel Boats that cruise the Rivers of America. Here you can see how crowded the park was that day. The boats are full with lots more folks waiting on the dock for their turn on deck. We chose to do other things.

My sister, Connie, and I were subject to punishment in a pillory. At the time, I wondered what I was being punished for. Now I know, how could I have ever worn those slacks? It is obvious that I had absolutely no sense of fashion.

As the day wore down, I was able to capture one of my all-time favorite photos of our mom and Lisa together with Cinderella Castle in the background. Yup, it's a keeper!

Night fell with that Disney magic coming alive in spectacular fashion. The lights falling on Cinderella Castle were breathtaking. I did not want to leave. I could have stood there gazing for hours.

Sadly, it was time to return home. The train station was outlined with hundreds of lights wishing us a fond farewell, knowing that we would return one day — and we did, although not all at the same time.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com